Microsoft's recent attempts at curbing piracy through its new Windows Genuine Advantage 1.0 software has, according to an article today on ZDNet, been hacked. I'm not terribly surprised, as Microsoft is a popular target, and there's lots of money to be made from finding ways to crack Microsoft systems for piracy prevention.
What I find annoying, however, is the glee with which this information has been greeted by some in the technology community who treat anything bad that happens to Microsoft as cause for celebration. Schadenfreude when the topic turns to Microsoft isn't anything new, but the hack of WGA 1.0 is an issue of license violation, and I think it's useful to wonder how the same people popping champagne corks would respond to similar license violations...against the GPL.
What if there were sites that offered the download of software which helped to obfuscate GPLed code so that it could be used in proprietary software without risk of detection (or just described best practices for GPL code obfuscation)? I bet the same people would grab their pitcforks and torches and storm the web sites that offered such advice.
Licenses are licenses. Granted, certain religious movements have managed to convince large swathes of the developer population that closed-source software is akin to slavery, but that doesn't make rejoicing in the infringement of proprietary licenses any less of a double standard.
Recent threatened lawsuits against proprietary companies who have extended GPLed code without releasing the source code for changes shows that the open source community understands the importance of licenses. If you want respect for one license, then it would do you well to encourage respect for ALL licenses.